Mayfield, Kentucky grieves in aftermath of tornado

2021-12-14 22:19:54 By : Ms. nulla Ya

Mayfield, Kentucky — Judy Burton looks up at her third-floor apartment, hands shaking. Through the broken walls of the building, she could see that her clothes were still hanging in the closet. Across the street, her church was sealed with wooden boards. A few blocks away, the minaret was demolished from the town’s grand courthouse and the roof collapsed. The restaurant where the neighbors had lunch also disappeared in the rubble.

She folded her hands together, trying to calm their tremors. When the tornado hit her town, Burton and her dog almost escaped, which was part of the midwest and southern tornado outbreak. Now, she is standing in the work of heavy machinery, cleaning up the wreckage of landmarks, businesses and houses in Mayfield with a population of 10,000.

"It's gone. It's terrible, terrible, I'm shaking," she said. "I need some time to calm my nervousness."

Burton could not imagine that a family here would not mourn. They are the kind of town where everyone is connected to everyone else. Mayfield was one of the towns hardest hit by the unusual tornado in mid-December. Burton looked around and was surrounded by a mess of wooden boards, bricks, and broken glass.

Hundreds of buildings have been wiped out. The roof is cut from the standing roof. Broken trees, clothing, large pieces of insulation and blown Christmas decorations were scattered on some streets. The fire station was unable to operate and most of the police cars were destroyed.

At least 8 people work in the Mayfield candle factory, and 8 others are missing. It is not clear how many more people died in Mayfield. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshir was worried that more than 100 people would die across the state, but on Sunday afternoon, he reduced this estimate to 50, many people in the candle factory were counted.

Burton worried for her neighbor and her puppy. They are scared among the dead because they may not be able to escape when the walls around them collapse.

Burton and the others evacuated in the middle of the night. She put her dog on, grabbed the neighbor's hand, and drove them to the elevator leading to the basement. When the wind blew the locked door, about 15 people there wept, screamed and prayed for protection.

In the hall, Johnny Shreve has been watching the approaching storm from his window. There was lightning and thunder, and in that moment of light, he realized that their town would be different in the morning: he saw an office building across the street disintegrating. Then he jumped to the floor of the kitchen, and a large block of concrete hit his body.

"It feels like everything in the world is weighing on me," he said.

He lay there for more than an hour, trying to dig himself out, yelling for his neighbor and his Shih Tzu, Buddy. Finally, Shreve broke into the living room. There was Buddy, trying to scratch him from the other side.

He posted on Facebook that they were still alive and added: "You all pray for Mayfield."

"When the sun came up, it surprised me," Shreve said, when he and others came back on the weekend to rescue what they could do and exchange stories about survival in the parking lot. "I can't see how this small town will recover. I hope we can, but we need a miracle."

In the nearby town of Wengo, more than 100 people took refuge in the church-babies, people in their 80s and 90s, family pets. Everyone has a story, a reason why they have nowhere to go.

Meagan Ralph, a teacher who volunteered to coordinate the shelter, used his mobile phone to retrieve aerial photos of his hometown of Mayfield. She zoomed in, looking for a landmark to locate herself.

"I can't recognize it, it can't be recognized," she said. "I can't even be sure what I'm looking at, it's too bad."

But she found hope in the asylum. Donations came in like a tide, and volunteers from surrounding counties swarmed in. She said people from Mayfield take care of each other.

The pastor Stephen Boyken said that as news of the horror incident in the candle factory that night spread during the storm, hundreds of ordinary people came to the factory to help. They braved the slippery rubble until the authorities demanded it. They go home. This spirit is part of Mayfield’s structure, he said: “If you are in the ditch, someone will stop, there may be three or four trucks trying to rescue you and help you.”

When the sun rose, they lined up in churches and school gyms, distributing piles of clothes and coats, food and water.

"We will recover, absolutely." Ralph said. "We are small, but very strong."

She looked around the shelter and noticed that the task in front of them was extraordinary, and their hundreds of neighbors now had nothing and nowhere to go.

90-year-old Wanda Johnson finally came here after evacuating from the same apartment building where Burton escaped. Johnson's window burst, and she clutched the door frame tightly and pleaded: "Dear God, help me, please help me get out of here."

In the shelter of her son and granddaughter, she wondered what they would become now.

"They told me we don't have a town," Johnson said. "Everything is over. It has just been erased. It has just turned our city over.

"We don't know where we are going-we don't know what else to go."

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